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Letter: Time to let go of idea of Confederate greatness
A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is removed from Lee Circle May 19 in New Orleans. Lee's was the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed under a 2015 City Council vote on a proposal by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

It was with great interest that I read the recent guest column of Dr. Douglas Young in which he decried the intolerant leftist firebrands who are at work across the country trying to destroy the glorious history of the Confederacy by taking down its monuments.

As is often the case when we try to criticize actions, we end up demonizing the people who act. I will try not to follow in Dr. Young’s footsteps. I will try to be a tolerant leftist.

The best way of doing this is to begin by pointing out that we have areas where I am sure we will agree.

If it is his assertion that we should not forget our history, then I certainly agree with him. We should mourn over the cemeteries that hold the remains of these soldiers from both sides, and we should have museums that are dedicated to educating the public about this great conflict.

We should teach our children about the Civil War, and the events that led to it. It is important to learn from the past.

I have been to battlefields, in the North and in the South, that left me saddened for our history, and hopeful that we have learned from it.

I have seen monuments that pay homage to the fallen, both Union and Confederate, that are beautiful and tasteful, and I would stand by the good doctor in preserving those.

I have also seen monuments, many times more, that do not pay tribute to the fallen, that do not teach a lesson.

When I see a statue of Jefferson Davis, for example, I do not see him depicted in the light of a false prophet who led many thousands of poor, uneducated young men to their premature graves in a treasonous campaign against the federal government. I see a figure to be revered and respected.

Yet Davis is worthy neither of my reverence nor my respect. He was a traitor, along with the so-called leaders of the CSA.

We are taught in the South, as I was in my youth, that these were great men, perhaps misled by their politics and their traditions.

These were not great men — certainly not worthy of the idolatry that sprung up around their memories in the years after the war between the states. These were men who had chances to be on the right side of history and refused to do so.

We should learn more from the outlaw John Brown, who warned almost two years before the Civil War that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood, than we should from the supposedly esteemed Robert E. Lee, who was sent to destroy the criminal and preserve slavery.

We cannot, and should not forget that our young men died so the conservatives of their day could maintain the status quo, but we can and should toss away the worship of the traitors that killed so many in our country’s bloodiest conflict.

Jeff Casper


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